Capacity to consent to healthcare in adults with intellectual disabilities

PhD Thesis

Dilks-Hopper, H. 2011. Capacity to consent to healthcare in adults with intellectual disabilities. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Department of Applied Psychology
AuthorsDilks-Hopper, H.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Section A explores capacity to consent to healthcare in adults with an intellectual disability in a broad context. It examines the legal understanding of capacity to consent as defined by the Mental Capacity Act (2005), before going on to use decision-making theory as a framework for exploring the psychological understanding of capacity to consent. It then examines the empirical literature on what influences capacity to consent to healthcare interventions and research in people with an intellectual disability, highlighting what further research is needed.
Section B reports an empirical study, which follows up on some of the further research suggested by Section A. Background: Capacity to consent has been identified as one of the significant barriers to healthcare faced by people with intellectual disabilities. In order to improve understanding, the literature has attempted to investigate factors that influence capacity to consent to healthcare.
Materials and Method: This study had 32 participants with learning disabilities, 22 carers and 3 nurse participants. It examined the correlations between verbal ability, decision-making opportunities and previous health experience, with capacity to consent to healthcare in people with learning disabilities, before exploring a regression model to show how the factors interacted.
Results: Previous health experience and verbal ability significantly positively correlated with capacity to consent, whilst the correlation with decision-making opportunities was almost significant. However, the regression model showed that only verbal ability was a significant predictor.
Conclusion: The study reveals the importance of looking at how factors that influence capacity to consent to healthcare interact with each other, rather than just acting individually. Further research is required to expand this model to include other variables.
Section C provides a critical appraisal for the whole project, exploring what was learnt and what could have been improved on, as well as considering the implications for clinical practice and further research.

KeywordsLearning disabled; People with learning disabilities; Medical care; Health care; Informed consent; Mental competency; Capacity and disability
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Oct 2011
SubmittedJul 2011
Output statusUnpublished
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